Mark Harrison: The Road To Liberty
Road To Liberty Sleeve Front Cover.jpeg

Mark Harrison – The Road to Freedom

Independent – 2021

The Road To Liberty is the seventh album by London-based old-time acoustic bluesman Mark Harrison. Built around the core trio of Harrison on 12-string and national guitar, double bass player Charles Benfield and drummer Ben Welburn, it is an inexpensive double album set with 21 self-written tracks that have influences such as Mississippi John Hurt, Eric Bibb. exhibit Guthrie and Blind Willie McTell. At the opening of Tribulation Time you already know that you will have a good time ahead of you. You'd like to give up / But give me another one, maybe I'm just a little lucky ”).

This dice roll, the move of a card image, continues through the national steel-colored Everybody Knows ("You risk your arm, you ride your luck / your luck sometimes runs out … circling guitar patterns and hints of early Dylan, Passing Through touches the" Com- and going ”nature of life populated by“ cruel women and faithless men ”while Club Of Last Souls captures the feeling of turning things upside down (“ I've been the club of lost souls Joined / And I was cut off from the path / I stand there with my thumb outstretched / But nobody takes me. ”Against the backdrop of Detroit, another good folk blues, Toolmaker & # 39; s blues, focuses on economic downturns and those who bear the brunt of the burden (“How can you be a toolmaker / If nobody buys tools? / They closed the factory / Put us all unemployed / No problem for the people / Who decided to kill us”).

There is only one instrumental piece in the set, but with Shaker percussion and Morrison's slide picking that reminds me of Leo Kottke, Last Bus Home is not to be missed.

It takes us to halfway through the first slice, and instead of making this a marathon through commentary on each track, I'd like to point you to particular personal highlights, first with the circling tones of Wheels Going Round, reflecting the theme of the revolving doors of life . the Killing Floor Blues Skip & # 39; s song and the playful tick-tocking rhythm I & # 39; m Damned ("On a sea of ​​trouble in a patched up boat / Bail like hell just to keep afloat"), the almost feels like a playground.

Opened the second CD with the urgency of the shuffling snares and the lively dustbowl-picking of All Rise ("Come on, judge, no need to be mean / Times were tough and I was pretty green / I confess to some minor offenses / I'm not the worst man you've ever seen "), the cheerfulness of the melodies continues to counterpoint the dark lyrics, such as Hard Life (" I can't pay the rent and the bills / And I can & # 39 ; t get off this gottdam pills ”) or the Dylanesque mug tape scratched Lowlife Avenue (“ One foot in the gutter / Try to keep the other out / Easy to keep slide / Easy to fall further down ”).

Elsewhere, Doing Time takes on a chain gang drumbeat for its penitentiary blues ("I can't remember exactly what I did wrong / But it must have been bad that I've been in this place for so long"), while both the slow blues curl your toes and Don't Let the Crazy Out the Bag Too Soon return to the basic idea that the world is a place where some days you fall in the face in shit and other days you just step in. Or to put it another way, in Restless Mind: "I'm on my way to freedom / But the road was closed, there was a riot".

However, there are brighter rays. While there may be "a lot of heartache, so many bad deals", Go Nice's reference to the candyman (more like the dope dealer who gets you high than the urban slasher myth with a hooked hand) also reminds us that there is a "very good luck with the dice" and of "singing the blind, message understood / you can be free". Likewise, it ends with Fox Chase defying the odds ("I punished a lot, out on the street / But I wasn't hit, I wasn't hit / I took a lot of punches that knocked" me off my feet / But I'm not beat, I'm not beat ”) and the mourning blues rush of By The Side Of The Road, which takes its place in the genre“ Peace at the end of the worries of life ”when he "Many. sings I've often gone the wrong way / Many times I've trudged uphill / Many times I've been abused / And locked up against my will / It doesn't matter now, let the bad wind blow / And rest / At the roadside ”.

Played and sung with the easygoing nature that can only come from honing your craft over the years but never confusing polish with passion, like the best blues players, Harrison offers a mirror of our problems and challenges, and though he might not be able to solve them, he still makes us smile when we go through them.

The way to freedom is out now. Order via

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